By CHRISTINE CHEAH
WE know balloons are decorative items used to colour up occasions. To many people, they represent happiness.
Kelly Sashimi (real name Ng May Hui), 20, truly embraces the joy in balloons, making others and herself happy by creating not just your usual balloon sculptures like animals, but entire dresses, which has kind of become her speciality.
Kelly is a professional balloon artist, and is one of very few females in her field.
In 2011, she participated in the South-east Asia Balloon Art Festival and emerged as one of the 10 finalists despite being new in the industry.
She started out doing it just for fun until she was 18 when an agency approached her to make balloon animals for children’s birthday parties.
“I was making a balloon dog for my sister’s friend at KLCC when a guy came up to me and wanted to hire me. I was surprised,” said Kelly.
But her interest in the art started years ago.
“I was intrigued by balloon art when I was very young and always pestered my father to buy balloon toys for me. He eventually got tired of my pestering and bought me a packet of balloons to play with and figure out for myself,” she said.
When she was 16, Kelly bought a book and taught herself basic balloon sculpting skills.
Like other teenagers, Kelly was wondering what to do after her SPM when she found out about a balloon art workshop organised by an international balloon supplier. That set her on a life-changing course.
“Through the other balloon artists at the workshop, I got to know about another workshop that was organised by the world’s top balloon supplier and attended the event.
“I built my network through these two workshop and acquired more balloon art skills. My career took off from there,” said Kelly, who was born and bred in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. These days, she gets paid thousands of ringgit to decorate parties, weddings and events with her creations.
But it has not been a bed of roses. Some people don’t take her seriously because of her petiteness and soft nature.
“People usually stereotype me and assume that I wouldn’t be able to deliver but after convincing them and showing them what I can do, they are impressed.
“And my sister accompanies me around to talk to people and helps me out, so it’s less intimidating,” laughed Kelly.
At 19, she has her own company, Belle de Balloon Artist, which is run only by her and her family, who has always supported of her career choice.
In the future, Kelly hints that she hopes to take her passion for balloons even further, by opening her own balloon shop.